The days are gone when only the really serious people got into photography. Nowadays, you don’t need professional equipment and a bag full of camera lenses to be an excellent photography. The World’s Best Smartphone has put these abilities into the palm of our hand.
Take Your iPhone With You
Make sure you have your iPhone with you at all times. You can’t take any picture – good or lousy or breathtaking – if you don’t have the camera. Even professional photographers complain now and then about losing a shot because they don’t have a camera handy. Have your camera with you at. all. times!
Practice Composition, Angles & Lighting
Pick up the iPhone even at home, and practice a bit on a regular basis, even if you don’t keep the practice photos. Good photographers just take the photos and sort them later. Get to know composition and angles and lighting, and what works better in different conditions.
Don’t delete or edit a photo before you’ve even taken it – just take it, and edit it later.
Take Yourself on Assignment
Just because the iPhone is fun doesn’t mean you don’t have to take iPhone photography seriously. Pretend you’re on assignment for National Geographic, and really get into to try it out. Hold your phone with both hands as you adjust and snap the picture. If you need to lean back a bit (and look really pro doing so), go for it. Instagram has taught me that I don’t have go to Victoria Falls or Eileen Donan Castle to take awesome photographs – a trip to Starbucks (cliche, I know) or the kitchen counter can give me some excellent rewards. Move around a bit as you shoot even simple objects and scenes – and you’ll be surprised at what you get.
Know Your Apps
You have to be familiar with what’s out there if you’re serious about improving your iPhone photos. But don’t get too complicated. Keep track of which apps do the best job, and which ones feel the most comfortable for your photography style. It’s best to have one app for each step of the process rather than a whole bunch of photo apps you don’t use that often. Have a good camera app (or just stick with the default Camera.app, which does fine), a good touch up app, and maybe even a photo manager that can syncronize to a cloud account.
Here’s my recommendations for solid mobile photography apps:
- Simple: Instagram
- Moderate: Snapseed, Luminance, Photoshop Express, CameraBag
- Advanced: PhotoForge or PhotoToaster
Beef Up on Features
Try different camera apps that offer additional features. Camera.app is great, and especially with iOS 5 bringing it to the lock screen. But it does lack some nice features that are pretty basic. I’ve fallen in love with Camera Awesome (free, although Camera+ is a worthy competitor) and my photography-buff Dad loves Hipstamatic because it looks like vintage photography equipment but still packs some great features. Try Leme Camera if you want a Hipstamatic-esque photo app but aren’t sure if you want to pay for it; Leme is similar but not as powerful.
Don’t Stagnate Your Style
If you follow more than a few people on Instagram, you’ll notice there are two or three filters that get all the attention. That does not mean the other filters aren’t just as great – and you can try out different ones, or as in the case of Snapseed and Luminance (among many others) you can adjust the effects with a fair amount of precision. Keep pushing the envelope of your mobile photography shoots. Give Color Effects (free and premium versions; the free one is great) a try as well – I’ve had some very cool results with this app.
Play around with Panorama
Pano is an awesome app for stitching your photos together into one big widescreen shot. PhotoSynth from Microsoft is also incredibly well made and dead simple to use. Photosynth also uploads to the cloud so you can safely get it later. AutoStitch Panorama is worthy of a good try as well. I don’t have this one installed currently, but it is still fun to use.
Tilt Shift Is All the Rage for a Reason
Apps like Snapseed (which I love as you can tell) and TiltShift both have strong tilt shifting customization features. Instagram has some basic tilt shift baked in and will give you a good (and free) way to try it out, but for more good features check these other two apps.
Put It In Motion
Still photos are great, but video has it’s place as well – and captures the sound of the shot. It’s a memory for the eyes and ears at the same time. Again, the default Camera.app is fine for basic stuff, but for a boatload of additional effects, I recommend PowerCam. With PowerCam you can add intense filters (a la Instagram) to video as it’s recording – you don’t have to finish the recording before you try each filter. Tilt shift goes into motion as well with Miniatures… which is just a cool, cool way to take video. Miniatures Pro offers additional features for an extra two dollars, which in my opinion you don’t need unless you’re really into tilt shift photography.
Mobile photography editing is at a stage now where it rivals some of the more tricky techniques used in desktop photo finishing ten years ago. You can do more and more in the device right in your hand. More room for playing around, more room for experimenting, more room for personal style. Best of all it’s easier than ever to capture those magi moments that would otherwise be lost forever.
So let’s make it worth the while and have some fun!